Parents of Sixteen Slain

A couple with hearts big enough to raise 16 children, 12 of them adopted, were murdered in their bedroom Thursday night while eight of their children slept.

Authorities in Florida are seeking three men and a large, red, 1970s or early 1980s model van caught on the murdered couple’s home video surveillance system

Byrd and Melanie Billings had adopted 12 of the children. But they were murdered in a home invasion on July 9, 2009 - See this image on Photobucket.

The van has been found and two persons questioned, but not arrested.

Florida law enforcement officials said Saturday that the people who killed a couple in their Panhandle home last week as their children slept appeared experienced.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said in a news conference that the department is questioning two persons of interest but they are not in custody. He said tips from the public led to the discovery of a red van Saturday morning that was likely the same one used in the crime and that helped authorities find the people they are questioning.

A bit more on the family:

[quote=AP story]The couple was well known locally for adopting children with developmental disabilities. They owned several local businesses, including a finance company and a used car dealership.

The Billings had 16 children, 12 of them adopted. Eight of the children, ages 8 to 14, were in the home when the couple was killed. Investigators interviewed the children, who are now staying with other family members.

Very sad story. Let us pray for the children they left behind. I know there’s a lot more to this story but the real story is that children who already have been abandoned, now have become orphaned once again.


7 men have been arrested and charge with open counts of murder. The youngest is 16 years old. One had served time for murder in 1991 and another has prior convictions.
At least one was/is an active duty airman from Fort Walton Beach. The USAF has a special forces base there.

According to the sheriffs office they trained for approx 30 days. The attack was carried out in less than 10 minutes and with some good military precison.

There was a father-son and one of the suspects Gonzales Sr owned a house washing company and some of the accused murderers worked for him.

I just check, an 8th person a female realtor has just been arrested in Orange Beach for her involvment in the crime. There is a report of a 9th person, another woman, being sought by the sheriff’s department.

The break in the case was the security system the victims had installed to watch the children. The murderers (accused) thought they had disabled it. The Sheriff has the entire disgusted episode on tape to include vehicles.

The State is thinking of going for the death penalty for all involved, to include the 16 year old. The parents were executed.

God bless those children and the family of the victims. And the accused.

Fr. Mark

this is such a horrific story. each day i hear a little more that just make this home invasion so frightening.

this couple who opened their home and their hearts to these 12 adopted children did not deserve to die like this. i did hear today that they did already have plans made for the children in case of their deaths. so they were responsible people who planned ahead in case the worse happened. when i look in the faces of the parents, they are just the most loving faces.

i am so thankful that all have been apprehended. i did hear that this realtor was supposed to have disabled the surveillance system. thankfully, it was not disabled and they were able to get the video footage of the van and how the attack happened.

just when i think it cannot get any worse, something like this happens.

we need to pray for these children and hopefully, this couple has been an inspiration to the community and they will leave a legacy of love.

Fr. Mark, thank you for the update. This whole episode is disturbing: that such good people were targeted, that the crime was committed by so many people, that these people didn’t know one another well, and that it was so well organized.

Apparently the reason the arrests could be made is because the whole thing was caught on the security recordings. The person who had been assigned by the gang to disable the security system never turned off the camera system. Why didn’t he? The local sheriff speculates that his conscience got to him, but its anyone’s guess.,2933,533001,00.html

actually, i think it was a she - not a he - that did not disable the security system. a realtor. she was the last one arrested so far.
with the sotomayor hearings on, i haven’t had the tv on much. so i hope the information i posted is correct. if not, please set the record straight.
i wonder if this realtor was a friend or if she could have sold them the house. i was wondering just how she was supposed to disable the surveillance system. i did hear that they had trained for 30 days. did this happen in broad daylight or was it during the night.
because when i see the video footage, it looks like daytime. i think i heard they found the bodies of the couple in their bedroom. what a terrible crime!

This is pure evil really. Sure the couple had money, but look what they were doing with it. How could these people let greed and envy lead them to murder of such fine people? So very sick. I know we are not supposed to believe in the death penalty in a case like this, but I really don’t care what happens to them. It is one area that I have trouble with in our faith. Justice should be God’s, but I have no empathy for any of them. I am very relieved that the couple had grown children that will care for the kids. Imagine inheriting that? It will be a lifetime of service.

yes, this is pure evil. i wasn’t aware that the grown children are the ones who will be caring for the 12 adopted children. evidently, they did inherit the love and unselfish character of their parents.
i know what you mean about the death penalty. is there any other country with a murder rate as high as ours? the death penalty doesn’t seem to deter murder, but these people had to be evil and full of greed and envy to want to murder this couple. unless something went wrong and they thought they would be in the house and take what they wanted and be out without hurting anyone. if they intentionally went there with a plan to kill the couple, then i don’t care what happens to them either. this couple was definitely displaying how God would like us to be - loving and unselfish and giving.

Most of the world is a far deadlier place than the US. We don’t do well compared to European countries, but even Russia has a murder rate which is 3 or 4 times higher than the US.

that is what i wanted to know - how our murder rate compared to other countries.
i wasn’t sure if there are gun control laws in other countries like in mexico. i am not opposed to people owning guns because there are many weapons that can cause the death of someone, not just a gun. i don’t know if there is a death penalty in these other countries with a high murder rate.
i do hope the people who committed this horrible crime will definitely be appropriately punished.

This case just doesn’t add up. Almost never are there this many people in a typical home invasion. The cops say robbery was a motive but not the only one. There is a missing piece to this story. I don’t know what it is, but something is being withheld from the public.

you could be right. i don’t think there was that much of value in the safe.

did this crime happen overnight or during the day?

Wow. That is sad. I really feel sorry for the poor children that were left behind because of this. :frowning:


This is so sad. :frowning: Offering a rosary for the family.

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